The stock market closed virtually flat Thursday in the absence of a catalyst that could push the benchmark index back to the 6,000-point mark and on Wall Street’s losses overnight.
The Philippine Stock Exchange Index slipped 3.10 points, or 0.05 percent, to 5,943.52 on a value turnover of P6 billion. Losers beat gainers, 106 to 78, with 58 issues unchanged.
Metro Pacific Investments Corp., which is into toll roads, water and electricity distribution, hospital and infrastructure, fell 3.4 percent to P3.40, while Jollibee Foods Corp., the biggest fast-food chain, declined 2.3 percent to P130.20.
Puregold Price Club Inc. of retail tycoon Lucio Co, however, rose 3 percent to P49.15, while conglomerate Ayala Corp. climbed 2.4 percent to P715.
The rest of Asian markets mostly dropped Thursday following a broadly negative lead from Wall Street after the head of the Federal Reserve warned of an “uncertain” outlook for the US economy and stressed the need for fresh stimulus.
While the central bank indicated interest rates were unlikely to begin rising for another three years, allowing businesses to borrow at ultra-low levels, Jerome Powell’s call for more fiscal help came with US lawmakers unable to find common ground on a new package.
Wall Street saw fresh losses, with the Nasdaq down more than one percent as tech giants took another hiding. And Asia mostly followed suit.
Hong Kong, Sydney and Seoul all lost more than one percent while Tokyo, Shanghai, Singapore, Taipei, Bangkok and Jakarta were also well down.
Wellington shed 0.5 percent, a limited drop despite data showing New Zealand’s economy fell into recession for the first time in a decade after a record 12.2-percent contraction in the second quarter.
Donald Trump sowed some confusion after claiming a vaccine could be available as soon as next month, directly contradicting the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who had given a timeline of mid-2021.
Fed boss Powell told reporters that while the recovery was looking better than anticipated, “overall activity remains well below its level before the pandemic and the path ahead remains highly uncertain.”
“It will take a while to get back to the levels of economic activity and employment that prevailed at the beginning of this year,” he said. “My sense is that more fiscal support is likely to be needed.”
Talks on a new rescue bill have been stuck in the mud for weeks, with both sides digging in their heels and swapping the blame, though Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows each made encouraging statements about the potential to break the impasse.
Trump on Wednesday tweeted that Republicans—who last week put forward a $500-billion proposal—should “go for the much higher numbers,” suggesting he is keen to reach an agreement with Democrats, who are aiming for $2 trillion.
“The onus on creating growth and inflation does really fall to fiscal policy and the bipartisan politics in Washington means that a new stimulus package may not eventuate until the new year,” said JP Morgan Asset Management strategist Kerry Craig. With AFP